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A car is a major purchase, possibly the largest one you have ever made. As you approach this process, it is important to know what to do and how to do it. Being an informed consumer will help you to get the best possible car at the best possible price. Here is our checklist, intended to help car buyers who are new to the US. It will help to guide you through the process of getting a car that is right for you.

First: Are you buying a new or a used car?

This is usually the first decision you will need to make. The answer to this question depends on your income and your credit. If you have a higher income and good credit, you may be able to buy a new car. But if you are on a tight budget, or your credit is not ideal, a used car may be the right choice for you. Once you have made the new vs. used decision, the buying path splits. Let’s start with buying a new car.

Buying a new car: all new cars are alike

If you are shopping for a new car, keep in mind that new cars of a given make and model are all identical, no matter which new-car dealer you choose to shop at. They are fresh off the assembly line, and have had no previous owners. This means that you can focus on getting the best deal from the best dealer, and wherever that is, you will be getting the exact same car.

Here are some new-car buying tips that will guide you through the process:

  • Decide which type of car is right for you: Car, truck, or SUV? Small, medium or large? Mass market brand or luxury?
  • Do your research online: Read the reviews, comparison tests, and reliability ratings.
  • Pick a few finalists: Two or three choices are enough, and don’t get hooked on a specific vehicle yet.
  • Test drive your finalists at local dealers: Take a through test drive on all the types of roads you will normally drive on. The car should be comfortable, easy to operate, and have enough power and features for your needs. Do not discuss prices or purchasing at this point.
  • Decide which vehicle or two you prefer: Your test drive should help you narrow your selection down to one or two.
  • Configure your chosen vehicle(s) and find current incentives: Use the manufacturer’s website to choose the trim level and options you want. This will tell you the MSRP, or retail sticker price of the vehicle(s). The site will also give you information on current cash offers and other incentives.
  • Check the local market pricing: Car shopping sites like Kelley Blue Book, True Car, or Edmunds can tell you what other buyers have paid for the car(s) you are shopping for.
  • Locate the car you want: Check the manufacturer’s and local dealers’ websites for vehicles in their inventories that match what you want.
  • Check your credit, figure out the right payment, and get preapproved: Checking your credit score will give you a good idea of the interest rate you will get on your car loan. The better your credit, the lower your rate. Next, use a loan calculator to figure out the right loan term and payment for your budget. Then you can apply for a loan and get preapproved, before you enter the dealership. Even if you’re a new U.S. resident without credit, Lendbuzz can help you here – contact us!
  • Negotiate the price of the car at several dealerships: Using the local market prices you have found, visit a few dealers that sell the brand(s) you are shopping for. If you don’t want to take the time to do this, you can do it by email or through the dealer’s website. Tell them that you are shopping for the best price on the exact car that you want. Also ask them for the interest rate that they would offer you for financing your purchase, and compare it to the rate you have been preapproved for. Continue negotiating until the car prices and the interest rates don’t get any lower.
  • Take the best deal and close it: Select the best combination of car price and financing rate, visit the dealer, do the paperwork, and drive away. Remember to bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance, any funds needed for a down payment, and your preapproved loan information, if relevant.
  • Drive away happy!

Buying a used car: no two used cars are alike

Once you enter the world of used cars, you will quickly realize that each one is unique and different from all of the others. They have been driven varying numbers of miles, they have had one or several owners, and they may have led lives that were pampered or abused, as well as everything in between. The key to buying a good used car is to find the one that has been treated the best, driven the least, and fits within your budget.

Here are some used-car buying tips to help you navigate this unfamiliar landscape:

  • Decide on the type of car you need: Small, medium or large-sized? A car, an SUV, or a pickup truck? A luxury brand or something from the mass market?
  • Research thoroughly online: Check out reviews, driving impressions, and especially reliability ratings and maintenance/repair costs.
  • Narrow it down, but not too much: Remember, the condition, mileage, and previous care of a used car count for a lot. Keep your options open.
  • Check the market pricing: Car shopping sites like Kelley Blue Book, True Car, or Edmunds can tell you what other buyers have paid for the used car(s) you are looking at.
  • Look up your credit score, figure out the right payment, and get preapproved: Checking your credit score will give you a good idea of the interest rate you will get on your car loan. The better your credit, the lower your rate. Next, use a loan calculator to figure out the right loan term and payment for your budget. Then you can apply for a loan and get preapproved, before you enter the dealership. Lendbuzz can help you here – contact us!
  • Thoroughly inspect and test drive each prospective used car: Check the condition of the interior, exterior, the under-hood area, and the tires. Take an exhaustive test drive on lots of different types of roads, including rough and bumpy ones, as well as highways. The car should feel solid, accelerate smoothly, corner confidently, stop quickly, and not make any disturbing noises. It should also not have any bad smells, severe rust, or other obvious problems. All of the basic systems and electrical/electronic accessories should work properly.
  • When you have narrowed it down, have the car inspected by an independent mechanic: This will cost a few bucks (somewhere around $100), but it is an excellent investment. A thorough inspection by an independent third party will give you the real lowdown on whether this used car is worthy, or if it is about to become a money pit that you should steer clear of. If that’s the case, walk away and keep looking.
  • Negotiate the price of the used car: Use the local market used-car prices you have found, along with any problems that the car may have, to negotiate a better price with the seller. You may ask the seller to make any necessary repairs as part of the deal. Otherwise, deduct the cost of the repairs (your inspection mechanic should give you this information) from the negotiated price. If you are buying the used car from a dealer, ask about a warranty. Also ask them for the interest rate that they would offer you for financing your purchase. Compare this to the rate you have been preapproved for.
  • Close the deal: Using the lowest financing rate, do the paperwork. You will need to bring your proof of insurance, driver’s license, down payment, and preapproved loan documents.
  • Drive away happy!

car loan myths misconceptions debunked common

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Car Loans Debunked

Getting a car loan can be a lengthy process, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. As an international living in the US, you may have heard a few myths about getting a car loan. There are a few common car loan myths circling around. For expats, the process of financing a vehicle is a bit different from that of a U.S. Citizens. So it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not when it comes to getting a car loan. Let’s bust the most common car loan myths and get you on track to financing your vehicle!

 

Myth #1: You need a social security number to get a car loan.

Social Security Numbers are numerical identifiers used for all United States citizens. Nowadays, SSN are issued at birth. If you are a non-citizen residing in the United States you may or may not be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number.

For Americans, these 9-digit identifiers are extremely important. One major role of the SSN is the connection to a person’s credit history. This country runs on credit scores. Most loans require a credit check. Consequently, many loan applications require you to enter a Social Security Number.

An SSN cannot be obtained simply because you need a car loan. Fortunately, there are options for foreign nationals without Social Security Numbers to secure a car loan. Some lenders will collect other information from you, like recent pay stubs and bank statements. As a result, they can have an idea of how financially responsible you are.

So, is it possible to get a car loan without a Social Security Number?

First, simply ask yourself: what are my options? If an application requires an SSN, try contacting customer support and explaining your situation.

Second, you can find a lender who caters to foreign nationals or borrowers without social security numbers. Lenders who specialize in foreign national car loans, like Lendbuzz, already have procedures in place for borrowers without an SSN. This helps you simplify your application process and secure a car loan more easily if you are qualified.

Myth #2: You can’t get approved for a car loan without credit history or credit score.

Most lenders rely on your credit history to determine whether or not you would be a trustworthy borrower. They use your credit score as the primary indicator and your social security number to access that information.

Having a Social Security Number does not mean you automatically have credit history.

Lenders in the U.S. generally only consider credit history that occurred locally and was reported to the credit bureaus. This includes activity from credit cards, mortgage payments, and car loans.

Not having credit history is not the same as having bad credit. Having bad credit means you have missed payments or acted irresponsibly. Having no credit means you have no financial activity in your records yet. If you don’t have credit history because you haven’t engaged in financial activities in the US yet, you still have a shot at getting approved for an auto loan.

So what can you do if you don’t have credit history? Find a company who can look at other information besides your credit score. There are other ways to show you can be financially responsible. These include bills that you’ve paid on time, your income, and your savings.

Myth #3: You can only get a good interest rate on a car loan if you have a high credit score.  

Contrary to popular belief, it is indeed possible to get a good interest rate on a car loan, even if you have no credit.

One way borrowers can improve their chances of a low interest rate offer is by using a cosigner. A cosigner acts as an insurance policy to the lender. If you fail to pay, they can demand payment from your cosigner.

Cosigners need to have good credit and be willing to take responsibility for your loan if necessary. As an international, you may not know enough people in the United States. Or you may not have such a close relationship with someone willing to be your cosigner. After all, a cosigner means lower interest rates for you but it can damage your cosigner’s credit if you fail to pay. It’s a lot to ask of someone.

An option for expats in the U.S. is to seek out a company that can offer competitive rates but does not require a co-signer. If a company has procedures in place to determine your trustworthiness without a credit score, then you are more likely to get a lower rate based on their policies.

Common car loan Myths Misconceptions

Myth #4: All car loan lenders are the same.

Not all car loan servicers were created equal and it’s important to research the companies you are applying to. If you do this, you can secure the best rate and improve your chances of getting approved.

There are a few ways to decide which companies you should consider applying to:

Find a company whose mission suits your needs.

The Internet is your friend when it comes to choosing a car loan servicing company.

If you have special circumstances, like not having a social security number or a credit history, a quick web search can help you narrow down your options. Some lenders cater to bad credit and others to families. Many companies have their own niche of the market that they want to help.

Lendbuzz is an example of an auto loan servicer that caters specifically to internationals who may not have credit history in the US. By using other information about you, like your education, earning potential, and savings, they are able to provide car loans at fair interest rates to borrowers who may not qualify at other companies.

Identifying the companies that care about and understand your needs can help you save in the long run.

Find out other customers’ experiences.

Once you’ve decided on a few lenders, you’ll want to find out what others are saying about them. Browse Google, Facebook, and Yelp reviews to find out how good a company’s customer service is. Is there a common concern among customers that you should be wary about? How good are the company’s ratings?

Apply for multiple loans and compare for yourself.

If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably identified more than one company that would suit your needs.

Fortunately, the application process for a car loan is non-binding. This means that you can apply to multiple lenders in order to compare rates for yourself.

 

Myth #5: The monthly payment is the most important number

You may be tempted to focus on the monthly car payments to determine whether you can afford your loan or if you got a good deal. However, don’t forget to take into account the total cost of the car. This means taking into consideration the interest you will be charged and the price of the car. If you extend your loan, you will have lower monthly payments but overall price of the car will be higher.

 

Myth #6: You can only get approved by local lenders

You may think that part of the application process still has to be completed in-person but that is not true. There are lenders all over the United States who have 100% online financing processes. You don’t have to limit yourself to considering lenders based in your state. This opens your options to a variety of lenders.

 

 

Many car loan myths could be holding you back from purchasing a vehicle. Getting to the truth of common car loan myths is an important step in getting the car of your dreams. 

how to get a car loan without credit history united states

New to the US? No credit history? No Problem!

You’re an international who moved to the United States for work or study. The time has now come, you need to buy a car. Deciding to purchase a vehicle is an exciting time for anyone. Whether it’s for a new job, a new home, or a simpler commute, the freedom of having a personal vehicle is a milestone worth celebrating. However, the task may seem daunting when you consider a few things. A car loan is a wise decision for an expat. It may be a necessary step in order to afford a vehicle. The problem is, as an international, you have not had the chance to build your credit history in the U.S. yet. Now, you may be asking yourself… How can I get a car loan without credit history?

Don’t worry! It’s possible. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about getting a car loan in the United States without any credit history.

What is credit and why don’t internationals have it?

Credit is the comprehensive history of all of your financial transactions. By using your Social Security Number, credit bureaus in the United States compile reports using data from lenders, banks, and credit card companies, to name a few.

Credit bureaus issue a Credit Score for anyone with consumer history and a social security number. If you have a credit score, it can range from 350 to 850, with 850 being the highest. Lenders use this score to determine whether or not they want to loan money to you. As well as to determine interest rates based on how good your credit score is.

Most Americans have some sort of credit history by the time they reach adulthood. They have bank accounts opened by family members, shared credit cards with parents, and even student debt that contributes to credit scores.

But if you’re an international who has recently come to the U.S., and haven’t engaged with this kind of consumer behavior yet. You probably don’t have a credit history on the books. Additionally, you may not have a Social Security Number.

What’s the problem with not having credit?

Having no credit isn’t as bad as having bad credit, but it can still make establishing a permanent life in the U.S. challenging. And to make matters more complicated, your credit history does not follow you from your home country.

This makes for one giant challenge for internationals in the US. Most applications for loans, credit cards, mortgages, and apartments require a credit check. Even some employers rely on credit checks to determine a candidate’s reliability in high stakes jobs.

If you are new to the United States, or even just haven’t engaged in consumer behaviors that get reported to credit bureaus, it’s very likely that you do not have a credit score. In the event that you need to borrow money, for example, for a car loan, it can be very challenging to find a lender who understands your unique situation.

why dont internationals have credit score score in the united states how to get car loan without credit history

How can I get a car loan without credit history?

Whether you’re purchasing a vehicle from a dealer or used from a private seller, often times you’ll need a car loan to make the purchase happen. Sometimes, dealers even use a special car loan rate as a selling tactic. They might offer a low-interest rate special offer, just for you.

If you’re an international without credit history, unfortunately, this offer is probably not for you. Car loans offered by dealerships and banks typically require a social security number, and a minimum credit score to qualify.

So where does this leave you? Is it possible to get a car loan without credit history?

It is. Credit has become the “go-to” tool to evaluate a consumer’s trustworthiness. However, there are other factors that can paint a similar, if not clearer, picture of your financial reliability.

International students and professionals don’t have credit history in the United States yet. They need a lender that will look beyond credit scores to provide them fair car loan rates.

Lendbuzz works to assist international students and professionals with this very challenge. Credit bureaus only use transactional history to give you a score. Therefore, potential lenders only see your transactions. If you don’t have a history of responsibly paying back your debts, or having been lent money before, lenders can consider you a high-risk borrower.

Lendbuzz is different from typical lenders because they look at the whole picture of your financial situation. Your past, present, and future. Lendbuzz considers other factors such as your education, savings, employment and earning potential in the future. That way Lendbuzz is able to determine your financial reliability. Thanks to that, Lendbuzz can offer competitive rates without ever looking at credit scores.

For example, an applicant who has a Master’s degree, a full-time job, and $50,000 in savings could be considered more financially reliable than someone who has no degree, works part-time, and has $500 in savings. This broader understanding of your financial potential helps Lendbuzz make decisions on who gets approved for a loan. Also, at what interest rates money can be borrowed.

How does a car loan from Lendbuzz help build my credit?

Just because Lendbuzz can provide you with a car loan without credit history, that doesn’t mean the benefits stop there.

If you are approved for a car loan with Lendbuzz, then you are already taking the first steps towards building your credit in the U.S. Just like any other lender, Lendbuzz links your loan and payments to your social security number. Then, Lendbuzz reports it to the three major credit reporting bureaus.

Each on-time payment you make with Lendbuzz helps you build good credit. You are demonstrating good financial responsibility with a U.S. based lender. This can be a valuable stepping stone. It can help you in the future. You may want to buy a  home with the help of a mortgage, sign an apartment lease on your own, or apply for a credit card.

Your credit score is determined based on money that has been lent to you. Either in the form of a loan or in available funds to spend (like a credit card) or how well you pay your bills on time. If you form good habits with your car loan early on, you will likely have success with your credit in the future.

 

Not having a credit score just because you’re an expat should never hold you back from getting the car that you need. When you work with a lender like Lendbuzz to finance your vehicle, you can hit the road knowing that you’re already paving the way toward a strong credit future.

If you would like to learn more about how to build credit in the US, download the Lendbuzz Credit Building Guide for internationals.